Velvet Revolution: 20 Years Later

Public Holiday: Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day Staff Jason Pirodsky

Written by StaffJason Pirodsky Published on 15.11.2006 15:49:40 (updated on 15.11.2006) Reading time: 2 minutes

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Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day

November 17th is Den boje za svobodu a demokracii, or ‘Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day´, a public holiday during which most schools and offices in the Czech Republic will be closed. The date commemorates the start of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, which marked the beginning of the end of the communist regime in the country.

On November 17th, 1989, a peaceful demonstration in Prague observing International Students´ Day was violently met by riot police. In the days that followed, protests grew into non-violent strikes at first involving students and actors and later involving all citizens of Czechoslovakia, in what was to be known as the Velvet Revolution (sametová revoluce). On December 29th, with the communist regime breaking apart, Václav Havel was elected president and the bloodless revolution ended.

Click here for a chapter from Terje B. Englund´s Czechs in a Nutshell on the Velvet Revolution.
Click here for a list of holidays in the Czech Republic.

Further information on the Velvet Revolution: has an excellent, detailed timeline of the events surrounding the Velvet Revolution; unfortunately, it´s only in Czech. Wikipedia has a condensed version in English.

If you are looking for information on how the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and other central and eastern European countries are faring 20 years after the end of Communism; check out this report compiled by Transitions Online.

Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Velvet Revolution
20 Years Without the Curtain

17th November
This free event open to the public will commemorate the 1989 student march from Albertov to Národní třída. The program includes an afternoon procession, memorial service and a concert by young Czech artists. Begins at 3pm, followed at 6pm by a concert of Czech musicians from numerous generations in Národní.
More information:

That Time in the East
October 28-January 3, 2010

A photo exhibit showing the lives of ordinary people in Czechoslovakia from 1948 – 1989.
City Gallery Prague Stone Bell House, Staroměstské náměstí  13,

Be Free
17 November- July 6, 2010

An exhibition commemorating November 17, the 20th anniversary of the fall of the iron curtain as well as events from the 1950s to 1990s.
National Museum, new building, Vinohradská 1,

After Velvet
Opening November 17

A new permanent exhibition at the Golden Ring House will attempt to reflect on social, cultural and economic changes that have taken place in the Czech Republic since 1989. Several artistic generations (both artists working before 1989, as well as young artists that entered the scene post-revolution) will display their views on this theme.
City Gallery Prague Golden Ring House, Týnská 6,

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